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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  September 11, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> pelley: tonight, is a syria deal too good to be true? in damascus, the government tells our liz palmer it will hand over its chemical weapons. but david martin reports it's not as easy as it seems. >> syria is considered by most experts as a chemical weapons superpower. >> pelley: the voters decide the fate of two colorado politicians who voted for gun control. barry petersen looks at what this may mean for gun policy across the nation. whooping cough hits more than a dozen states, with one state on track for its worst outbreak in 50 years. anna werner looks at why. and don dahler on this anniversary of 9/11 with a fireman who responded to the call and is still coming to the rescue 12 years on. >> i can't think of a better way
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to honor my son. captioning sponsored by cbs ning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: good evening. now the work begins. the idea of a peaceful solution ut the syria crisis is seductive, but it could be deceptive as well. the five permanent members of the u.n. security council gathered today to take up the russian plan for syria to give up its chemical weapons. secretary of state kerry is heading to geneva tonight to meet with his russian counterpart sergei lavrov. they talked by phone today. all of this is aimed at heading off a u.s. military strike to punish the syrian regime locked in a civil war for a nerve gas attack three weeks ago today. the obama administration says that attack left more than 1,400 syrian civilians dead. the president in his speech last night said the images of it are horrifying and sickening.
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we have two reports tonight on syria's chemical weapons. first, elizabeth palmer in damascus found an official suddenly happy to talk about them after the government refused to admit their existence for 20 years. >> reporter: two years ago when ali haider was working as a doctor, he didn't have to take a gun to work. but now he's the optimistically named minister for reconciliation, a new post created to mediate between armed factions in syria's escalating civil war. no member of the assad government will admit it's at all possible that syrian troops used chemical weapons in the august 21 attack. but they do say it's still worth getting rid of those weapons to avoid a u.s. strike. "syria needed to ease the international pressure" haider told me. "we wanted to protect the people and not be dragged into an unpredictable conflict with america."
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the u.s.-based n.t.i. think tank says syria's chemical arsenal is spread between multiple research, production, and storage sites. across the country that's now a complex patchwork of battle zones and shifting front lines. still, haider said he believes international inspectors will be able to do their work. essentially you're telling me that all the government facilities are not only secure but accessible? "yes," he said. "our facilities are in safe locations, still protected by the syrian government so access will be fairly easy." easy? well, that's unlikely. but the challenges of securing the weapons amid the fighting won't be clear until the inspectors are actually on syrian soil. >> pelley: and liz palmer is joining us from the syrian capital again tonight.
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liz, what's the sense in damascus? is there a sense of relief? >> reporter: there was a great collective sigh of relief when the news broke that a deal was in the offing. you could see people with iphones high fiving one another as they read the news. but it didn't last. that was a spark of euphoria that has collapsed almost completely and people listening to the shelling and the bombing are braced for a lot more fighting. in fact, as one young man said to me today about what's going to be a very long war, "all i can see is killing and more killing on both sides." >> pelley: none of this does anything to end this civil war. liz, thank you very much. even if the syrians do allow the inspectors to do their work, finding and disposing of all of those chemical weapons will be a monumental task. david martin has that part of the story. >> reporter: the u.s. and russia know exactly what it takes to get rid of chemical weapons. they've both spent the past 16 years dismantling their own massive stockpiles under the terms of a treaty banning chemical weapons. syria didn't sign that treaty so
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it has spent those same years adding to its own stockpile which now total an estimated 1,000 tons of chemical agents. >> syria is considered by most experts as a chemical weapons superpower. >> pelley: this man spent part of his career many special forces tracking syria's chemical weapons. >> they've got a lot of it. it's weaponized for the most part and it's useful, so it's not just stuff sitting in laboratories or storage sites. they're already in artillery shells, rocket warheads, air droppable munitions. >> reporter: the u.s. has spent $26.5 billion building incinerators in eight states and on one remote pacific island where chemical weapons were stored. so far, 27,000 tons of chemical agent have been destroyed. translate that to syria's stockpile and it would cost about one billion dollars to destroy. the pentagon, of course, knew where all its chemical weapons were stored. that's not the case in syria.
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>> i would say our knowledge of the exact location of these weapons is at best imperfect at this point. >> reporter: in iraq, u.n. weapons inspectors spent years ranging over the country in search of chemical weapons. >> we are inspectors. >> reporter: constantly ending up in confrontations with iraqi officials. as with iraq, syria would have to declare exactly how many chemical weapons it has and where they are stored. that would be the first sign it intends to cooperate with the u.n. and is not just playing for time. >> pelley: david martin at the pentagon for us tonight. david, thanks. well, if the syrians are playing for time, president obama has given them more of it. major garrett is at the white house tonight. major? >> reporter: scott, the white house refused to impose a timeline for diplomacy to impose a standoff for chemical weapons. the threat of u.s. military strikes is more distant at any time than since this crisis began and russia, the white house said today, holds the key. the russian proposal embraced by
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the syrian regime has three parts: united nations inspectors would secure all chemical weapons sites; inspectors would control the weapons and oversee their eventual destruction. white house press secretary jay carney said russia must follow through. >> russia has, i think to its credit, put its prestige on the line when it comes to its close ally. >> reporter: so what you're saying is this is something russia has to deliver on the world stage now? >> i'm saying that russia has stepped forward and put this proposal on the table and i think this whole process will test the seriousness of all participants. and it is absolutely the right thing to do to pursue this. >> reporter: but the white house concedes russia and syria do not have a good track record. this was the president last night. >> it's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed and any agreement must verify that the assad regime keeps its commitments.
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but this initiative has potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force. >> reporter: a key question in all of this is how to enforce syrian compliance. russia wants to take the threat of military force off the table, but, scott, it's not clear whether the white house would agree to that. >> pelley: major, thanks very much. coming back home now, we told you last night about a campaign by opponents of gun control to oust two colorado lawmakers who helped pass tougher gun laws in that state after that movie massacre last year. the recall votes succeeded and barry petersen has the follow- up. >> reporter: recall supporters were jubilant over their double victory. >> because we're delivering a warning of a new reality in politics: call it the new morse code, if you'd like. (laughter) >> reporter: morse for john morse, president of the state senate who said passing tough gun laws was worth losing his job.
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>> any other legislator in this state, in the country, ought to be proud if they get taking out after making their state safer from gun violence. >> reporter: timothy knight and anthony garcia were among the recall's organizers. what do you think the effect of this is going to have on the gun control debate in this country? >> it's going to significantly change the political landscape because now the people have a tool. they have a blueprint. they have a way to throw them out of office. >> reporter: democrats still control the legislature so the recall likely means no immediate repeal of laws that restrict ammunition magazines to 15 rounds and require background checks even for private sales. a recent poll found the gun laws opposed by a margin of 54% to 40%. >> john morse and angela giron - - >> reporter: and after a recall that saw some $3.7 million spent on both sides, there's already talk of more recalls for other divisive issues here and elsewhere in the country.
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>> we're going to see a lot of groups pick up the mantle and try and stand for their rights. >> whatever their issue may be. >> reporter: abortion, gay marriage, things like that? >> yeah, whatever their issue is going to be they can stand up and do something about it. >> reporter: at gun shops like this one, people are pretty happy about their victory. but, scott, they admit that it could be a lot harder to be successful in a recall somewhere else. recall supporters here were motivated, angry, well organized. all great ways of getting your people to the polls. >> pelley: barry petersen in colorado tonight. barry, thanks. today america kept the promise that it made 12 years ago-- that we will never forget those who died in the terrorist attacks of september 11, 2001. the bells tolled at the national 9/11 memorial in new york to mark the moments two hijacked jetliners struck the twin towers of the world trade center.
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>> daddy, i miss you so much. >> reporter: relatives and friends of the 2,753 who died their read their names and shared their memories. at the white house, the president marked the solemn anniversary with a moment of silence. then he placed a wreath at the pentagon where a third plane struck and 184 died. >> our hearts still ache for the futures snatched away. the lives that might have been. the parents who would have known the joys of being grandparents, the fathers and mothers who would have known the pride of a child's graduation. >> pelley: and, at shanksville, pennsylvania, where 40 died, they remembered the heroes of flight 93 who fought bravely against the hijackers. we were reminded today that the war on terror that began on september 11 continues. there was a final homecoming for staff sergeant t.j. lowbrakeoh,
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jr. lowbrakeoh, of fairfield, connecticut, was killed last week in afghanistan. one year after benghazi what's when a bear came to visit, everyone, wondered closeup when the cbs evening news continues. without angie's list, i don't know if we could have found all the services we needed for our riley. from contractors and doctors to dog sitters and landscapers, you can find it all on angie's list. we found riley at the shelter, and found everything he needed at angie's list. join today at angieslist.com [ crashing ]
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>> pelley: one year ago today in benghazi, libya, militants linked to al qaeda stormed the u.s. mission and another building about a mile away. in an attack that lasted for hours, u.s. ambassador christopher stevens and three other americans were killed. that brought calls to strengthen security at u.s. diplomatic outposts. margaret brennan tonight takes a look at what's been done. >> reporter: former diplomatic security agented to keil just finished an entire investigation for the state department that discovered extensive security flaws at u.s. diplomatic posts. for instance, he pointed to the high-threat american embassy in beirut where the ambassador's office was not blast resistant and not protected by a sufficiently high enough wall. it was the 1983 bombing of the previous american embassy which killed 63 people that prompted the creation of the diplomatic security bureau. >> i think all of the members of the panel that traveled to
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beirut were a bit surprised when we recognized that we're on an embassy compound which actually created the new security standards because of what happened in 1983 and 1984. 30 years later, we're in an embassy compound that still did not meet those security standards. >> reporter: the state department still has not fully implemented recommendations made after an earlier investigation into the benghazi attacks. those included 1,000 marines to be sent to 27 high-threat posts. only 100 have deployed. new training for embassy personnel to prevent injury by fire. but that is still 10 months away. hiring an additional 150 of the state department's own security staff. many won't start for another year. we asked the state department about the delays and it says it has requested $2.2 billion to fully fund the reforms. a bill in congress to authorize that money has yet to come up for a vote. robert menendez is the chairman of the senate foreign relations
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committee. >> i would have liked to have seen, you know, the congress move more expeditiously on this, but at a time of fiscal cliffs, at a time of fiscal challenges, i have to continue to convince members that this is the right thing to do. it's right by our diplomats, it's right by our security interests. >> reporter: the state department has made improvements, included training for diplomats headed to dangerous posts. but a common way to respond these days is simply to evacuate-- like the department did last week in beirut when there are concerns about our embassy there. >> pelley: margaret brennan at state department headquarters in washington. margaret, thank you. there is a rapidly growing epidemic of whooping cough and we'll have the story next. next. ♪
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we are getting late word from northern california where a wildfire burning out of control apparently has taken a life. sheriff's deputies found a body while check ago home in io about 150 miles north of sacramento, the fire broke out monday afternoon, 11 square miles have burned and 30 homes have been destroyed. an old disease is making a comeback, cases of whooping cough are rising. 14 states are reporting an increase this year and it's an epidemic in texas, on pace to be the worst in half a century
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there with 2,100 cases this year. anna werner reports that the very young are most at risk. >> reporter: michael clark is barely three months old but he's in a fight for his life against pertussis, or whooping cough. chad and lisa clark are his parents. >> it's heartbreaking. when i'm used to being the one taking care of everything and i can take care of nothing, just sit back and watch, it's very difficult. >> reporter: texas reports more than 2,100 cases of whooping cough, two infants have died. the disease clogs the airways with mucus, causing severe coughing fits. dr. jeffrey kahn works at children's medical center in dallas. >> i think the most frustrating part about this is the lack of awareness that pertussis is a deadly disease, particularly for young children. >> reporter: vaccines are not given to children younger than two months. doctors recommend booster shots for older children and adults
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but say that advice is often ignored. >> every case of pertussis that we see here the parents can recount or recall some individual who that child's been exposed to who's had a cough. >> reporter: you're basically saying in virtually all of the cases you've seen where infants have died they got it from an adult? >> absolutely. that's right. an adult who unbeknownst to them had pertussis and they just thought they had a nagging cough. >> it's a simple little vaccine and it could have prevented all of this. there's not anything we can do except for just wait and pray that he gets better. >> reporter: doctors say michael's chances are good but even if all goes well he'll likely spend many more weeks in the hospital. anna werner, cbs news, dallas. >> pelley: what would you do if you saw a black bear walking down the street? well, if gatlinberg, tennessee, folks chased the bear to take pictures. in an understatement, a wildlife officer said they should don't that. the bear seemed more nervous than the humans but somehow it knew to use the crosswalk and
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went back into the woods, leaving a question of which species is smarter. 9/11 first responder p.j. schrantz is retired now, but he's still trying to save lives. his story is next. coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at asthma.com, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these digestive issues with three strains of good bacteria. live the regular life. phillips'.
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broadcast you heard the president talk about futures snatched away on 9/11, parents who wouldn't know the pride of a child's graduation. well, thoughts like those were on the mind of a 9/11 first responder and parent as he searched for victims of the terror attack. now, as don dahler tells us, he's dedicated his life to rescuing futures. >> come on, let's go see what we have here. >> reporter: at new york presbyterian children's hospital former fireman p.j. schrantz is busy with his second career. >> you could be an artist if you want, you know that? >> i know! that's what i was planning to be. >> reporter: that was boy that's five years old, his name was julio, he reminded me of my son on so many levels and it does bring me back. but i can't -- i can't think of a better way to honor my son. >> reporter: 12 years ago today, schrantz lost four members of his engine company. at the same time, his five-year- old son dustin was battling leukemia. where are you on september 11,
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2001? >> right down the block, actually. at ground zero. >> reporter: so you're down here being a fireman trying to save lives and in the back of your mind -- >> in the front of my mind. >> reporter: in the front of your mind, of course. >> my heart was at home with my son and my family. >> reporter: dustin died two years later. schrantz says the kind of people who help others have a hard time asking for help themselves. >> right now as we speak there are firefighters running into a burning building. there are police officers putting their lives on the line. there are men and women in camouflage uniforms on foreign lands fighting to protect our freedoms. and thousands of those people, thousands of those heroes, have critically ill children. >> reporter: to help first responders and other families with sick kids, schrantz started wishgivers.org, a group which assists with medical bills, medications, and entertainment at children's hospitals. new york police officer mark
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staniscewski spent seven months working at ground zero. >> jake, my beautiful 21-month- old boy, is -- he got diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer. he's currently fighting for his life. and to not be able to fight for him, it's the worst feeling a father can have. and p.j. understands that. >> reporter: wishgivers is holding a fund-raiser to help the staniscewski family pay medical bills. >> (laughs). >> reporter: heroism isn't always about rushing into harm's way. sometimes it's as simple as getting a little girl to smile. >> hooray!
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look of some of the bay ar's busiest streets. depending how u look at it - it could be a they can't be doing that. it ruins it for all the working guys out here. >> it wouldn't just transform the look of some of the bay area's busiest streets. depending how you look at it, it could be a transit rider's dream. or a driver's nightmare. a big change coming to some big streets in san francisco. the idea? force people to change the way they get around. we can tell you right now, many are not going to like it. kpix 5's phil matier is live along van ness avenue where cars will take a back seat to bullet buses. >> reporter: that's right, elizabeth. here we are, van ness avenue. and as you can see, traffic is backed up, it's moving slow at the rush hour here. but the idea is to try to get
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it moving faster with a bullet bus. but it's going to take some trade-offs. here's the story. >> reporter: this is how van ness avenue looks today and this is how it will look after the planned $125 million bullet bus system goes in. with two lanes to be set aside for buses only plus timed lights and no left turns for cars so that those buses can move even faster. >> when you think your bus is coming it's actually going to come at that frequency. >> reporter: but what about cars? >> the goal is not to get people out but to really provide a competitive alternative. >> reporter: that's the same thinking that now has downtown market street closed off to most cars to allow for buses and bicycles. and the building of the new central subway. and, of course, the miles and miles of new bike lanes often which means less parking. >> over the two miles it's about 20% of the parking. >> are they crazy?! they can't be doing that. it's just -- it ruins it for all the working guys that are out here. >> reporter: how so, we won't have a place to park. >> reporter: maybe. but get used to it.

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